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Cold weather can affect your health but there are some things you can do to help stay well.

If you’re 65 or over, pregnant, caring for someone, between two and four years old, in year 1 or 2 at school or if you have a long-term health condition, you’re entitled to a free flu vaccination. You get this for free as you’re at greater risk of being seriously affected by the flu. Learn more about why you should have the flu vaccination and where you can get vaccinated against flu.

You should also look to ensure that you heat your home properly this winter.

  • a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) is fine for most people wearing suitable clothing. But older people may need the temperature to be slightly higher
  • if you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the room you spend most time in during the day and your bedroom just before bedtime. Close curtains and shut doors and windows to keep heat in the room you use the most

For full information about winter warmth, particularly for those with health conditions that may be affected by cold weather, such as respiratory or circulatory conditions, see the NHS Choices Keep Warm, Keep Well pages.

Information about local services that can help this winter are available on the Health and Social Care service directory.

Top tips for staying warm this winter

Stay active

Moving around at home will warm you up, but heading out to a club or group at a warm and cosy community centre is even better. Search for groups on the health & social care service directory.

Eat well

Hot meals and hot drinks will help you stay warm. If you’re not able to cook, consider Meals on Wheels services (for more information telephone  023 9268 8390) or local lunch and dinner clubs that offer affordable hot meals, with good company too! Search for meals on the health & social care service directory.

Dress up warm

Wearing layered clothing or thermal underwear will help to keep you warm at home. Put on more layers rather than wrapping up in a blanket, so that you’re not tempted to stay still for too long – getting up and about will keep you warm too. Remember, slippers or thermal socks will keep your feet toasty, but make sure they fit well and have non-slip soles.

Have a cold weather plan

Make sure you’re prepared in case the bad weather keeps you from going out for a few days. See our ‘plan ahead’ section for details, and remember to check in on neighbours. If you need a good neighbour to check in on you, there are local community groups that can do this, search for good neighbours on the health & social care service directory.

Plan ahead

Get your flu jab:

  • free from your GP if either you are pregnant, a carer, aged 65 or over, or have a weakened immune system or long-term health condition
  • free through your employer if you’re a frontline health or social care worker
  • available to anyone from many local pharmacies for a charge of around £7 – £12
  • find your local pharmacy or GP on the health & social care service directory
  • Children aged 2-4 years old or in years 1 or 2 at school can also get the free flu jab

Get prepared:

  • make sure you have some extra essentials in case bad weather prevents you from going out. Look for items that will last the whole winter, such as long-life milk, porridge, tinned fruit and veg, dry pasta and rice
  • replenish your first aid kit and medicine cabinet if necessary. Consider getting in your usual cough, cold and sore throat remedies
  • replace worn slippers. Non-slip soles can lose their grip over time and sturdy slippers can become loose. Well-fitting, warm slippers will keep you cosy and steadier on your feet
  • think about cosy nightwear. If you need to get up in the night, you’ll stay warmer in bed socks, thermal underwear and a hat

If you’re not able to get out and about, consider a local ‘good neighbours’ service. There are several locally, with services ranging from company, collecting prescriptions or essential food items, and pet care. Search for good neighbours on the health & social care service directory.

Safety checks:

  • if you use an electric blanket, consider this safety advice from Hampshire County Council
  • before using a hot water bottle, check it for damage or wear such as cracks, fading or a loose stopper, as leaks can cause serious burns. When you replace your hot water bottle, look for the BS1970 mark for quality
  • if you’re over 60, have a child under 5, or have a disability, Homecheck can carry out basic safety checks and carry out small repairs, as well as draught-proofing free of charge

Heating costs

Apply for a Winter Fuel Payment if you don’t receive it automatically with your State Pension or benefits.

If you were born before 5 July 1953 and are usually resident in the UK, check to see if you’re eligible. You can apply until 31 March 2016.

Check if you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount. If you receive Pension Credit, are on a low income or have a disability visit to find out whether you could receive a £140 discount on your electricity bill.

If you’re a private sector home owner or tenant looking for energy advice or assistance with improvements please phone private sector housing on 0800 052 2242 or email

Other ways to make your heating bill more affordable:

Can you predict your energy bill? If you don’t know how much gas or electricity you’re using, it’s tempting to use as little as possible to make sure the bill doesn’t get too much. Many energy suppliers will send you a free gadget that shows you how much energy you’re using, so you can keep warm without worrying. Contact your supplier for more information.

Are you claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to?

  • if you look after another adult, such as a spouse, family member, friend or neighbour who wouldn’t be able to manage their daily living without your help, you may be entitled to carers benefits. The Carers Centre can help you claim
  • if you have children under 16, have a low income, are disabled or over 50 you may be entitled to financial support. The charity Turn2Us has a free and independent benefits checker on their website to help you see whether you’re eligible and tells you how to claim. It doesn’t carry out any personal checks, you simply answer questions and the website will tell you which benefits a person in your situation may be able to claim

Do you have debts?

Getting help with your repayments can help the rest of your bills feel more manageable.

Visit our money advice pages for more information on:

  • Advice services to help with money, debt and benefits
  • Money advice
  • Help if you are struggling with fuel bills

Tips for a cosy home

  • if you’re over 60, have a child under 5 or have a physical disability, the council’s Homecheck service can draught-proof your home free of charge. The service is available regardless of income, or whether you own or rent your home, and there are no obligations or hidden charges
  • consider fitting thermal linings to your curtains, particularly in the living room and bedroom. They will keep the heat in during winter, and can keep you cool in summer. If you aren’t able to do this yourself, a local handyperson service may be able to help. Search for handyperson on the health & social care service directory
  • check your letterbox and keyhole for draughts. You can purchase covers for a few pounds if they’re letting the cold in. Remember if you’re over 60, have a child under 5, or have a physical disability, Homecheck can do this for you for free
  • keep your doors closed, especially in the room you’re in. This will help your heating to be more efficient. Consider fitted draught excluders that attach to the door. They will keep the warmth in without being a trip hazard
  • keep in mind that several thin layers will be warmer than one thick layer. This is true for your day clothing, nightwear and your bed linen. Natural fibres such as cotton, wool, or fleece will also be warmer than synthetic fabrics such as polyester
  • if you dry your clothes on radiators or clothes horse, try to restrict this to one room, such as the kitchen or bathroom. While your clothes are drying keep the window open, and the door closed. This way the damp air can escape outside, rather than clinging to your walls which can make your home harder to heat
  • if you already have a problem with damp in your home, tackling this will make your home easier to heat. Which? have a free guide to identifying what kind of damp is causing your problem, and the best ways to treat it